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The Wire Troll: Rich Hill Keeps On Rolling

April 29, 2023 | By RotoRob | comment on this post
Rich Hill continues to get the job done for the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Rich Hill in ancient, yet effective. (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

Welcome back to another week of Fantasy baseball. We’re nearly done the season’s first full month, so there’s still a ton of time for you to find difference makers on the wire. Get to it!

This week, Shohei Ohtani just missed hitting for the cycle — in the same game he was also the starting pitcher; Aaron Judge (hip) left early on Thursday and is heading for an MRI and potentially the IL; and Mitch Keller tied a career high with 10 Ks for a Pirate team that has surged to the top of the NL standings (and is well represented in this week’s column).

And now, let’s get to this week’s…

Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire Picks

Rich Hill, SP, Pittsburgh Pirates (ESPN: 4.8 per cent; CBS: 9 per cent): We gave Hill some love in September and is was a decent pick as he was generally strong down the stretch. Now, the old-as-dirt veteran has found yet another new home this year in Pittsburgh, and while he hasn’t exactly sparkled (4.85 ERA), the majority of that damage came in just one start and he’s been very strong in each of his last three outings. Hill has a ton of mileage on his arm, yet it’s not as much as you’d imagine for a 2002 draft pick as he’s never been an innings eater (355 career games, 1,285 innings). You could do much worse in an NL-only league, as he can still punch ’em out (see video below).

Vince Velasquez, SP, Pittsburgh Pirates (ESPN: 12.4 per cent; CBS: 33 per cent): When we last looked in on Velasquez nearly five years ago, he was getting beaten around something ugly, and not much has changed since then. However, he’s actually winning games as a full-time rotation member early on this season for the Pirates (yes, another Bucco SP… small wonder they’ve improved, right?). Better yet, Velasquez has a date against the NL-worst offense (Washington) this weekend. We’d like to see him up his groundball rate and he’s likely due for a bit of regression moving forward, but is still an asset in mixed leagues.

Adam Wainwright, SP, St. Louis Cardinals (ESPN: 15.2 per cent; CBS: 48 per cent): Wainwright (groin) should be back in a week or so, and we’re curious to see how he does without his historically long partner Yadier Molina. Regardless, Wainwright is someone you need to target, even if more regression is likely. He’ll make his third rehab start on Sunday, so should be activated after that, assuming he comes away unscathed.

Yennier Cano, RP, Baltimore Orioles (ESPN: 3.2 per cent; CBS: 7 per cent): The O’s are rolling and a big part of their early success has been Cano, who has emerged as a supreme reliever, evening earning his first save on Friday. Called up just over two weeks, he’s been relied on more and more in increasingly important situations, and why not? He’s literally been unhittable, tossing seven straight games without giving up a single hit — a historic feat. Could Cano be the big prize from last year’s Jorge Lopez trade? Should Felix Bautista falter at all, Cano would soar in value, but is worth owning as a set-up man.

Others to Consider

Jake Burger, 3B, Chicago White Sox (ESPN: 2.3 per cent; CBS: 18 per cent): Burger caught our eye last June, but after his big month, a wrist injury sidelined him for the rest of the season. This year, his walk rate has bounced back and he’s mashing dingers, so get him.

Dane Dunning, SP/RP, Texas Rangers (ESPN: 2.5 per cent; CBS: 5 per cent): Dunning’s star dimmed when he fell off our Top Prospects list in 2020, but he could get a chance to start after Jacob deGrom came out early Friday with forearm tightness. Dunning has looked sharp as a long reliever this season, going undefeated with a sparkling ERA and much improved control.

Ji-Hwan Bae, OF, Pittsburgh Pirates (ESPN: 4.4 per cent; CBS: 39 per cent): When we slotted Bae inside the top 115 of our 2023 Outfield Rankings, we called him a potential sleeper. We hope you listened as he’s piling up the runs and steals.

Shea Langeliers, C, Oakland Athletics (ESPN: 9.1 per cent; CBS: 42 per cent): Langeliers opened our eyes last year, earning considering as a 2022 Wire Troll All-Star. Now, he’s tied for 14th in the majors in homers even though his hard hit ball percentage has dropped.

Bailey Ober, SP, Minnesota Twins (ESPN: 5.2 per cent; CBS: 17 per cent): With Kenta Maeda landing on the IL, Ober is back up in Minny, and considering how good he looked in his season debut Sunday, he’s a great pickup candidate. ZiPS projected Ober to make 20 starts this season, and that could still happen with both Maeda and Tyler Mahle hurting.

Jarren Duran, OF, Boston Red Sox (ESPN: 7.8 per cent; 36 per cent): A graduate from our Top 100 Prospects last year, Duran’s GB/FB rate is down a bit, and that’s translating into an increase in his ISO.

Jack Suwinski, OF, Pittsburgh Pirates (ESPN: 11.6 per cent; CBS: 38 per cent): Another Pirate? Yup. Small wonder they’re the most improved team in the bigs, right? Suwinski is hitting a lot more fly balls this year, and they’re leaving the yard at a higher rate, making him an excellent source of power.

RotoRob Tune of the Day

American jazz bassist Johnny Pate is among the oldest living musical artists at age 99, but after getting his start in the ’50s, he was done performing by the ’80s. Still, he’s known for his superb Blaxploitation film soundtrack work, including Shaft in Africa from 1973. From that classic comes “Truck Stop,” a song that was sampled by Gramatik in 2008.

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